How to break up with your boyfriend without breaking his heart—that is the question. In truth, there is no one answer, but there are several tips for letting someone down gently and respectfully. In an age of ghosting, it’s more important than ever that people learn to communicate in a respectful manner. Relationships aren’t just about the good times, but how to navigate (and communicate) through the bad times, and how to end them if the time comes when one needs to do so. And by you doing right by your boyfriend, chances are higher that he does right by his next girlfriend. We all contribute to a healthier dating climate.
If you want to break up with your boyfriend in a respectful manner, here are some great tips for how to do so.
Relieve Yourself of the Guilt
If you’ve thought this through and know you want to break up, then it’s right for you to do so. How your boyfriend chooses to react to that is his responsibility, not yours. If he gets heartbroken, then that’s on him. You cannot be held responsible for how he’s feeling—only that you break up with him as nicely as possible.
A really nice book about taking responsibility for your own emotions (and reactions) is “The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz, should you need some inspiration.
Think About Why You Are Doing It
Before you can break up with your boyfriend, consider why you are doing it.
Is it because you aren’t connected physically, spiritually, intellectually, emotionally, or sexually? Does something not gel?
Is it because he’s not showing enough appreciation? If so, how can you tell he doesn’t appreciate you—maybe he’s showing appreciation in ways you just can’t see.
Is it because you want different things in life?
Is it because he’s not willing to put in an effort?
Is it because you want to date other people before you settle down?
Is this something which could be “fixed” and would you be willing to fix it if he offers to do so? Are you placing an ultimatum, or are you breaking it off once and for all? [Read: 10 Tips for Older Men Wanting to Date Younger Women]
Get clear on it for yourself, first. That way you will know for sure a) that it’s the right thing to do b) what to say when he asks you why you are breaking up with him.
Be Honest Without Being Brutal
Telling someone that you don’t find them to be man enough for you, or that you just don’t find them attractive enough, is going to do a number on their ego.
If you don’t find them attractive enough, then tell them the spark is missing. After being together for a while you simply feel that your personalities aren’t a match for creating that spark.
Don’t Give False Hope
If he asks if you see a reunion happening after he’s sorted out x, y, and z, or after you’ve had a chance to date others, don’t say yes unless you mean it. He will hold onto you instead of moving on. Let him go. [Read: Over 60 Dating: Tips for Finding Love After 60]
Of course, if he has a problem showing his appreciation for you and you’d be happy to date him if he read a few books on the subject and started therapy, then you can tell him that.
Think the Conversation Through Beforehand
Close your eyes and imagine your boyfriend sitting in front of you, then envision the conversation you’re going to have. See it going in different directions and how you will handle it. Practice till you find an inner calm when imagining this conversation.
By practicing the conversation beforehand, chances are better that you’ll be able to relax enough to say what you truly want to say. What’s more, it will lessen the chances of you getting upset if your boyfriend reacts unfavorably—simply think through how you’d like to react if he gets angry, or starts spewing nasty things at you as he feels hurt (another reason not to be with him).
If you want to find out more about practicing conversations before having them, have a read/listen to Maxwell Maltz’s “Psycho-Cybernetics.” It’s an incredibly interesting book about the mind and how we can rewire ourselves to be successful at most anything simply by changing our mental attitude through different practices.
Remind Yourself That You Can Do It
Nervous that you won’t be able to follow through? Perhaps because you love your boyfriend even if you know it’s not right for you. Perhaps because you’re scared of his temper. If so, it’s time to boost your confidence.
Remember other conversations you’ve had where you’ve been brilliant. Or difficult tasks you’ve managed to perform. Uneasy situations you’ve lived through. [Read: 8 Great Tips for Asking Guys Out ]
Give yourself the courage to tackle the breakup confidently.
If You’re Genuinely Scared of His Reactions
Is the reason you fear leaving his your fear of him getting violent? Or possessive? Or telling you that you’re absolutely worthless? If so, you might need some backup.
First of all, chat to a professional therapist about it. If you’re dating a narcissist or someone abusive, you will need to rebuild your confidence. If you don’t have the money, there are free resources available—just google it.
Secondly, if you feel afraid, bring a friend. Even if they’re waiting outside in the car.
Of course, if you’re afraid they’ll get violent, then speak with an organization specializing in this kind of thing—they can help you leave him and keep you safe. You may also want to go to the police, but if you fear that he will beat you up if you break up with your boyfriend—the best way to go may be to leave without saying a word. Again, you’ll want to get help from an organization specializing in this.
If There’s Something Positive, Say So
Maybe you’re still angry. He cheated on you and you’ve come to realize that you can’t accept that. Even if he’s changed. You just can’t overcome it.
Firstly, don’t start berating him. Let go of the anger and simply say it as it is—you do not want to be in this relationship because x, y, and z. You can share that it’s hurt you, but also be the kind of person who takes responsibility for your feelings—show that he cannot mess you around. It hurt, but you choose not to be hurt anymore. You also choose a man who treats you differently. There needs be no anger, just an inner happiness you’re doing the right thing.
Secondly, tell him that you appreciate the good times and the learnings.
“Our relationship hasn’t been perfect, but we had some brilliant moments. I want to thank you for those. And I’ve learned so much thanks to you. I hope you can look at me in the same light.”
If you can, get specific with some compliments too—it can help him as he processes losing you. Feeling good about himself may prevent him from pondering his shortcomings too much and help him move on to date others.
If you share an apartment, or keep clothes in each other’s closets, be firm but fair. Don’t kick someone out on the street, or make them sleep on the couch immediately. Offer to stay with a friend for a while as you work out how to get rid of the apartment. Or ask them if they want you to collect their belongings at your place, as opposed to them coming to get them. [Read: 10 Tips For A Second Date All Men And Women Must Follow]
On the flip side, don’t give them forever. You have to be firm. They can’t have an excuse three months down the line for why the apartment can’t be rented to someone else, or why they haven’t fetched their belongings.
Stop the Rumors
You may want to talk things over with your friends, but don’t start unnecessary rumors. Your ex likely did some things that weren’t great and others that were. Just like you likely did the same. If you don’t want the world to know about your mistakes, don’t shout about his for the world to hear.
If You Offer Friendship, Be Honest
If you want to stay friends, say so, but outline the details. Are you OK to hang out next week, or do you need weeks, or months, before you’ll be OK with that? Also ensure that he doesn’t think friendship will lead to the two of you getting back together, unless that’s what you want.
And how friendly are you willing to get? Are you OK to keep sharing a home, or would you like to be acquaintances? Are you OK to hang out in a group, or go for coffees together? Will you be OK with meeting future partners of his?
While you don’t have to settle all the detail immediately, you do have to outline some details.